It’s ‘pissing’ indeed


It was a peak summer afternoon. I got inside Bus No 114, a direct one from Vandalur to CMBT. Inside the bus, there were heads dangling from pulpy vertebrae and hands holding on to the bars like withered branches. Not a welcoming sight. I found a corner seat anyway.

The hot breeze through the window forced my eyes shut. Post that I saw everything in a haze. The oily heads and baskets of dried fish at the Tambaram stop would blur into a blank red screen. Next I would wake up to college lads playing tabla on the bus door to some MGR music. This would culminate in a splash of red. Next, a bunch of white ribbons tying the frizzy plats of school girls as they fight to get in. Blank red.

After what seemed like a day, I woke up to a slight nudge on my shoulder. It was a lady who was trying to unbutton her blouse to feed her baby. The kid, well above three, looked at me with her round eyes in despise. Heat does that to people. The innocent start loathing other equally innocent. I turned my face and let the sun brush my face black. The kid kept hitting my elbow as she rejoiced her mom’s milk.

I realised I had slept again when I woke up to a nudge for the second time. I wanted to be rude, but this time I could only see the lady’s back. Where was the kid?

The bus was almost empty with just a few fast asleep. The conductor was busy talking with the driver about a new release. I slightly raised myself up from my seat to get a better view of what the lady was doing? I was almost standing when she suddenly turned and sat straight. I sat back and pretended to adjust my dress. She picked the child from the bus floor, kept her on the lap and hurriedly pulled her shorts up. The kid smiled. A wicked satisfied smile.

The conductor whistled. As the bus came to a halt, the lady got off along with the kid, carefully placing her steps as she walked past to the bus door. Did someone puke?

I slid slowly on to her seat and looked down to see a trail of yellow urine meandering all the way to the back seat.

A landmark at Brussels which shows a kid urinating into the fountain's basin

A landmark at Brussels which shows a kid urinating into the fountain’s basin

Atrocious! I looked around at the empty seats and sleeping faces. Should I tell the conductor? Just then his whistle halted the bus.  School children chattered their way in, their new Bata shoes smudging what was then a lean valley. The chatters grew, so did the imprinted foot marks.

I cringed in my seat. It felt weird to be the only one to know the truth. But I couldn’t shout ‘Urine Urine’. I didn’t want to be a silent spectator, neither did I want to create a ruckus. I did what I thought was sane, got off the bus in the next stop like nothing happened at all. Once out, inhaled in deep, shouted ‘Yuck’, and continued walking.

 

The yellow shabby sheet


I have a board above my study table wherein I pin up anything that I find inspirational, aspirational or  simply interesting. While the paper bits get changed almost every week, there is one clipping that remains. It is a yellow shabby sheet out of a pocket-sized diary. It says – ‘Ammu, I love you always’ written in green marker. Underneath is her sign. A curve around N of Nivya, written in fat bold alphabets.

Like graffiti on my wall

Like graffiti on my wall

Chechi had her moods. She would randomly sign on my brand new notes, right on the front page, much to my annoyance. This withered sheet was a reflection of one such instance. She had pasted it on the board saying that it should be left there permanently. I had given a sarcastic nod then, and continued with my work.

Months went past. The clippings changed from news about Obama’s announcement of Osama Bin Laden being killed to the curiosity rover being sent to Mars. During this period, she had got married and moved to her in-laws place permanently. The space in the shelf, which I used to fight for, now lay empty. The portion of the bed which I demanded for every night, now lay vast and untouched.

Years went past, the hollowness vapourised. The yellow sheet remained. Sometimes ignored, it lay beneath a pile of books and would be later excavated while cleaning, pinned up again. Sometimes I would find it hanging at an angle with one pin less to hold it. Be it during a hurried breakfast with mouth full of food or while inserting my tight sandals up my soles, I would always take a second to pin it up if I see it dangling on the board. It had almost become an involuntary action.

Then she left for the US. I remember smiling at the yellow sheet when back home after seeing her off at the airport. The idea of it resting right there somehow is comforting. The sheet talks to me. It pacifies me during stress, says things are alright, perfectly okay. It reminds me of the little garden we had in Haridwar, where as kids, chechi and I spent our childhood riding toy cars, eating unripe grapes and smelling jasmine. All those days when we used to apply ponds cream on our cheeks to get rid of the winter freckles and go to Kathak classes with three layers of clothing. It reminds me of the white frock with fat circular blocks and the huge cactus plant in our balcony. The smell of mango kept for drying and the sight of vulture outside our bathroom window, the same window through which we used to see mom and dad coming back from work in the Bajaj scooter. It’s surprising that this shabby scrap holds the key to such memories.

A few days ago I had unknowingly discarded it along with few other bits. After scavenging inside my files and shelves, I found it lying inside the bin along with a banana peel. Now it rests on my board again, neatly pinned up, yellow and rusty as ever.